(Roughly) Daily

“Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”*…

Representation of consciousness from the seventeenth century by Robert Fludd, an English Paracelsian physician (source)

… but that doesn’t mean that we won’t attempt to answer “the hard problem of consciousness.” Indeed, as Elizabeth Fernandez notes, some scientists are using Schrödinger’s own work to try…

Supercomputers can beat us at chess and perform more calculations per second than the human brain. But there are other tasks our brains perform routinely that computers simply cannot match — interpreting events and situations and using imagination, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Our brains are amazingly powerful computers, using not just neurons but the connections between the neurons to process and interpret information.

And then there is consciousness, neuroscience’s giant question mark. What causes it? How does it arise from a jumbled mass of neurons and synapses? After all, these may be enormously complex, but we are still talking about a wet bag of molecules and electrical impulses.

Some scientists suspect that quantum processes, including entanglement, might help us explain the brain’s enormous power, and its ability to generate consciousness. Recently, scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a technique to test for quantum gravity, suggested that entanglement may be at work within our brains. If their results are confirmed, they could be a big step toward understanding how our brain, including consciousness, works… 

More on why maybe the brain isn’t “classical” after all: “Brain experiment suggests that consciousness relies on quantum entanglement,” from @SparkDialog in @bigthink.

For an orthogonal view: “Why we need to figure out a theory of consciousness.”

* Erwin Schrödinger


As we think about thinking, we might spare a thought for Alexius Meinong; he died on this date in 1920. A philosopher, he is known for his unique ontology and for contributions to the philosophy of mind and axiology– the theory of value.

Meinong’s ontology is notable for its belief in nonexistent objects. He distinguished several levels of reality among objects and facts about them: existent objects participate in actual (true) facts about the world; subsistent (real but non-existent) objects appear in possible (but false) facts; and objects that neither exist nor subsist can only belong to impossible facts. See his Gegenstandstheorie, or the Theory of Abstract Objects.


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